12 Poses to Lower Stress
By Tara Caguiat
Anxiety disorders plague more than 18 percent of American adults every year, but few are aware of how yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety. Restorative yoga, specifically, tends to be one of the best styles of yoga for depression and anxiety. Movements are slow, poses are held for long amounts of time and the use of props offers additional support throughout the practice.
Practice these yoga poses to relieve depression and anxiety.
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose is a beginner yoga pose utilized for resting in almost every style of yoga. This prone yoga pose helps with anxiety because it allows for complete relaxation in the body and helps practitioners feel comforted and safe.
2. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Corpse Pose is a beginner yoga pose that often closes the yoga practice. This supine resting pose allows for total relaxation in the body with the hope of entering the theta brainwave state that produces deep relaxation. Support this pose with props, like a bolster or rolled blanket under the knees.
3. Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
Extended Puppy Pose is a beginner yoga pose that can be supported with props to ease the intensity. This deep heart opener pose helps relieve stress and anxiety by stretching the spine, abdominals and upper back while allowing your head to rest.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Restorative yoga poses for depression and anxiety don’t get any better than Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose. This unique pose uses the wall as a prop and relieves pressure in the feet, lower back and pelvic floor while inducing relaxation in the body with the help of controlled breathing.
5. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish Pose requires proper technique to protect the neck so it’s best for intermediate and advanced practitioners. Fish pose opens the front side of the body, with the emphasis on the throat and chest, and it helps open the lungs and energize the body. Students new to this pose must be especially careful to not place weight on the head and compress the neck.
6. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Bound Angle Pose is a seated pose that opens the hips, stretches the inner thighs and allows for focus on breathing and meditation.
7. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This passive pose loosens up the lower back and simulates “letting go” as you literally hang the weight of your head and torso towards the floor.
8. Seated Head-to-Knee Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Seated Head-to-Knee Forward Fold is a calming pose that relieves stress by stretching the hamstrings and lengthening the spine. It’s easy to make it even more restorative by placing a bolster or blocks on top of your legs to rest on.
9. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Easy Pose is a great starting pose for relieving depression and anxiety. It’s a place to begin slowing down, looking inward and finding comfort in your breath.
10. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Sphinx Pose opens the heart and lengthens the spine while allowing for stillness and focus on the breath. Beginners can benefit from doing Sphinx pose daily and gradually transition into Cobra pose (Bhujangasana).
11. Plow Pose (Halasana)
Plow Pose is a more advanced yoga pose where the hips lift up and over the head, rounding the spine and deeply stretching all the way up to the neck. Keeping the head perfectly still to project the neck is especially important in Plow.
12. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Happy Baby Pose helps open the hips while massaging the lower back. This supine pose for beginners is convenient to do in the morning or before bed.